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Re-Imagining Environmental Law in an Age of Sovereignty and Control

23rd Nov 2016, Outreach Centre, University of Edinburgh

The lessons of the last thirty years have been that environmental law is inherently multi-level. Addressing environmental problems engages all levels of government and also requires co-operation between different levels. Practice and scholarship has evolved, often in quite sophisticated ways, to address this state of affairs.

The outcome of the EU referendum, along with its accompanying focus on sovereignty and control, stands in sharp contrast with these developments in environmental law. We find ourselves in uncharted political, intellectual and legal territory. The challenge for practitioners and scholars moving forward is how to evolve an inherently multi-level subject in light of these circumstances in a robust and legitimate way. While Brexit is a distinct UK phenomenon, the issues it raises for environmental law are not. How much room is there in environmental law for sovereignty and control? How will existing structures of cooperation be reshaped in light of this paradigm shift? Does theory need to adapt in order to accommodate changes to the political and legal realities? In short, how do we reimagine environmental law in light of shifting political discourses?

This half day workshop explores these issues from a variety of perspectives. The workshop has a twofold purpose: to deepen the debate and to start to develop a conceptual frame for moving forward. The changing landscape will be considered from the perspective of different levels of governance; specific subject areas; and in relation to both practice and academe.

The event is organized and supported by the Journal of Environmental Law (OUP) and the School of Law, University of Edinburgh.


12.30 Lunch

1.30 Introduction: The Impact of Brexit on the Environment: Exploring the Dynamics of a Complex Relationship
Professor Chris Hilson (University of Reading)

2pm The View From Here: Multilevel Perspectives on Environmental Law in a Changing World
Perspectives from the devolved regions, EU, and international law. Panellists include Professor Bob Lee (Birmingham), Professor Joanne Scott (UCL), Dr Francesco Sindico (Strathclyde), and Victoria Jenkins (Swansea).


3.20pm: Different Areas, Different Challenges?
The multi-level nature of environmental law varies depending on subject area – a situation that reflects the complexity of multi-level governance. Panellists include Dr James Harrison (Edinburgh), Professor Maria Lee (UCL), Navraj Singh Ghaleigh (Edinburgh), and Professor Colin Reid (Dundee).

4.20pm Practice and Theory
Exploring the changing landscape from the perspective of academia and practice. Panellists include Dr Ole Pedersen (Newcastle), Dr Sophia Kopela (Lancaster), and Philip Hunter (Brodies).

5.10pm Summing Up and Conclusions

5.20pm Announcement of Richard Macrory Prize for Best Article published in the Journal in 2016 by Dr Ben Pontin (Chair of the Judging Panel).

5.30 Drinks

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